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Episode 801: Sponges: Oldest Creatures in the Sea?

They come in all different colors, shapes and sizes. Many of us have used them to bathe or clean with, and the most famous one is SpongeBob SquarePants, a cartoon character who entertains children from his pineapple in the sea. But have you ever given sponges much thought? Until recently there was scientific consensus that sponges were the first animals to branch off the “Animal Tree of Life,” a kind of family tree for all living and extinct animals on earth. But recent DNA research has cast doubt on that theory, with some scientists suggesting that ctenophores, also known as comb jellies, are an older lineage.


Meet the experts featured in this episode.

Special Thanks:


The International SeaKeepers Society
355 Alhambra Circle, Suite 1100
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 448-7089


Fleet Miami
(305) 615-3190 


Albany Bahamas
(242) 676-6010


Holiday Isle Oceanfront Resort
860 A1A Beach Boulevard
St. Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 471-2555 ext.101

Image Credits

Changing Seas would like to thank the following individuals and institutions who kindly allowed their footage, images and other media to be used in this production:

Nickelodeon’s “Spongebob Squarepants” used with permission by Nickelodeon. ©2016 Viacom Media Networks. All Rights Reserved. Nickelodeon, all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks owned by Viacom Media Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc.

Angela Rosenberg

Andrew Elliott

Eric Loker
University of New Mexico

Fernanda Azevedo
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Henry M. Reiswig
University of Victoria

Joseph Ryan
University of Florida Whitney Lab

Kirt L. Onthank

National Cancer Institute

Robert Stone
NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Special Thanks:

Amanda Costaregni
Captain Aaron Erzinger
Captain Brandon Freeland
Todd C. Holmes
Cole Easson
Christian Vaterlaus
Chuck Messing
Christine Schonberg
Cristina Diaz
Derek Roderick
Eleni Voultsiadou
Fleet Captain Glen Allen
Franz Brümmer
Ingrid & Leonard Stuart
Jasper de Goeij
Jean Vacelet
Jim Cantonis
John Stevely
Kathy Kennedy
Laura Schejter
Leon Colebrooke
Libby Evans-Illidge
Manuel Maldonado
Marta Chiodin
Martina Milanese
Marzia Sidri
Mert Gokalp
Michelle Klautau
Nevelin Dean “Uncle Jakey”
Renata Manconi
Rob van Soest
Shirley Pomponi
Sofie Remijsen
Karen Richason
Stephen Stricker
Tatjana Bakran-Petricioli
Thierry Perez
Vasilis Kazakidis

Web Extras

Bahamian Reef Sharks                                          
Life in Red Bays, Andros Island, Bahamas          
Wrecks near New Providence Island, Bahamas

Funding for this episode of Changing Seas was provided by:

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